Lessons from Nature: Optical Devices

Published on Sunday January 15, 2006

What makes a green beetle green? How does structural color play a role in the world around us? Can an optical dipstick be created from natural polymers to detect toxins in drinking water?

These are some of the questions being researched in Dr. Caroline Schauer's laboratory. Dr. Schauer is assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Drexel University.

It is believed that over the next two decades, the average supply of safe water per person will drop by a third, increasing hunger and disease. Therefore, there is a need to quickly and cheaply ascertain whether residential drinking water is safe. Dr. Schauer's lab is using renewable resources to create stacked thin films of biopolymers for sensing and materials applications, such as the detection of heavy metal ions in ground and waste water. Currently, the Schauer lab has specific sensors for lead, chromium, mercury, and copper.

Dr. Schauer is also a key participant in the summer outreach programs at the College of Engineering and has a variety of lab members ranging from high school students and teachers to visiting researchers performing experiments in her lab.

For more information on Dr. Schauer's research, please visit: Dr. Schauer's website

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